NTH is sourcing AGSUN 8251 directly from the breeder in South Africa. The variety has the following attributes:
- Seed viability is up to 99% germination.
- One Kilogram (I Kgs per Acre seed rate) will plant an Acre at a spacing of 75 by 30 Centimeters.
- High Yielding crop variety between 800 Kgs per acre without Fertilizer and up to 1500-2,500kgs under good agronomic practices or management.
- Drought tolerant variety and noted to mature and yield with minimum of 11 good rains.
- Resistant to Pest and Diseases including Leaf rust, Leaf spot and Anthrank nose.
- High Oil content tested at up to 44%.
- Maturity period between 90 – 95 Days.
- Excellent uniformity in seed formation i.e. the grains harvested from a garden will have uniform size.
- It is a stay green variety i.e. stems remains green even when head is ready for harvest avoiding rotting due to water logging at the back of the head.
- It weighs up to 86kgs a bag compared to 55kgs for the competition.
OUR SUPPLY AND DISTRIBUTION CHANNELS
- Through the cooperatives
- Government agencies and Programs e.g. OWC, VODP, NAADS
- Through NGOs and Partners.
- Individual Farmers
OUR ROLES IN THE VALUE CHAIN OF SUNFLOWER.
- NTH stock and make available Hybrid Sunflower Variety (AGSUN 8251) and other high quality Planting Seeds.
- Provide field extension services through its field extension staff, Cooperative staff and work with district field extension staff in building the capacity of committed youth engaged in Sustainable Agriculture.
- Support the establishment of learning centers in the cooperative areas in form of demonstration gardens/sites to aid technology transfer and diffusion.
- Purchase all the output (sunflower grains) from the Cooperatives.
- Support the cooperatives to access technical and business development services including financial services through NTH own services and linkages with relevant market players.
- Work towards establishing a long term mutual beneficial relationship with farmer organizations/cooperatives based on trust and respect.
AGRONOMY OF AGSUN 8251.
Agsun 8251 can thrive best at medium to high elevations in the tropics. It is not suited for wet areas of rainfall because it is a warm season crop.
It can be grown on a wide range of soils but preferably deep and well drained sandy loam soils, it is very susceptible to acidic or water logged soils but it can tolerate saline and alkaline conditions.
An average monthly rainfall of 120M would be enough for it to grow and reach its maturity.
Being a cultivar that takes 85 to 90 days and a full season crop, it can be rotated with legumes, cereals and root crops. It can also be intercropped with Maize or Sorghum but for high yields it should be grown as a single crop.
Practicing crop rotation is highly encouraged as it suppresses the buildup and reoccurrence of pests and diseases.
After carefully selecting the field/site clear the bush one month prior especially before the onset of rains, allow it to rot and carryout the first and second ploughing but ensure the grass decomposes to provide manure to the soil.
Break the larger soil clods to its fine texture to ensure maximum rainfall infiltration and to provide a suitable seedbed. All the stubbles of the previous crop should be removed and all growing weeds should be destroyed and buried in the soils.
At the planting time, farmers should ensure the soils are well moist to ensure prompt germination.
The planting of the Agsun 8251 should be timed to allow the growing crops efficiently utilize the rainfall so that the high oil content is achieved .Planting should be done within the first two weeks after the rains have started. In areas with longer rainy season it is advisable that planting should be delayed to avoid ripening of the crop during rainy season.
Plant in lines/rows at a spacing of 75cm x 30cm and plant one seed per hole. The seed requirement is 1kg/acre.
- PLANTING DEPTH
Plant the seeds at a depth of 1 inch for a maximum germination.
For high production and productivity the crop requires fertilizers. Agsun 8251 sunflower variety responds well to both organic and inorganic fertilizers. Organic fertilizers such as compost and farm yard manures contains high percentage of nitrogen and potassium required for the growth of the crop and can be applied using band placement or broadcasting method preferably after the first weeding which is normally after two weeks after planting or after the second weeding at knee height.
Synthetic fertilizers such as DAP, NPK and Urea can be applied. DAP can be applied during planting using top dressing method, dig a planting hole, using a bottle top pour the fertilizer in crystal form, cover it and plant the seeds after.
A dosage of NPK can be applied using ring placement or broadcast method; this can be done when the plants are at knee height. Foliar application of urea can also be used. The rate can be 50kgs/acre.
- WEED CONTROL.
To avoid competition with the crop plants the weeds should be uprooted or killed at a very early stage, it can be done with a hand hoe or by inter-cultivating the field between the rows of plants if possible this should be done two weeks after the germination of the crop as young plants are highly sensitive to strong weed competition and cannot develop fast enough to form a full shade covering to suppress weed seedlings.
Selective herbicide such as 24D can be used either as pre emergence or post emergence or in combination.
The major pests that cause significant damage to Agsun 8251 sunflower variety include Maggots that tunnel into the stem, leaf beetle, vagoriated grasshopper, and bollworm and cut worms which eat the leaves and the birds which eats the grains during ripening. The insect pests can be controlled by usage of cypermethrin, ambush, perfectron. As a control measure for birds harvest the crop as soon as the crop matures and also use scare scrows.
The most common diseases include stalk and head rot, downy mild dew and leaf rust. Control by use of certified and resistant variety, rotate the crops and ensure field hygiene.
Harvesting should be done at a time when the grains have reached full maturity. It should commence when the heads have turned yellow and the outer bracts have become brown. To do this, cut the heads using either a knife or a sickle and place the heads into a thin layer on open drying floors and are turned occasionally when the moisture content is reduced.
Threshing is then done manually by beating the heads using a small stick. All chaffs and foreign matter should be winnowed out after threshing and dried on a tapeline to ensure quality and reduce moisture content to 10%.
Well dried grains should be packed and stored in well leak proof stores. The storage structure should be cleaned and fumigated with a suitable insecticide.